From before he even arrived in the NBA, Hawks rookie point guard Trae Young was drawing comparisons to Stephen Curry. While they were always premature, it was easy to see why parallels are drawn between the two players, particularly given the vast shooting range that Young displayed while leading the country in scoring (and assists) at Oklahoma.
After 23 games in the NBA, Young has displayed real upside offensively but also experienced significant growing pains while leading a rebuilding Hawks team. On Monday evening, Young and Curry will face off in Atlanta but, prior to tip-off, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was, predictably, asked about comparisons between the two.
Just moments before tip-off in Atlanta, Kerr noted that, when the two teams played earlier in the campaign, he witnessed “incredible skill, shooting and passing the ball” from Young and a confidence that is definitely necessary when projecting stardom from the point guard position. From there, Kerr noted that he believes Young was “inspired by Steph” but, in the same breath, “any comparisons have to wait” and “you have to see how (Young) does over the next couple of years,” while also remembering all the steps taken by Curry.
Earlier in the day, Kerr was prompted in similar fashion and, along the way, told reporters (via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN) the notion of Young as something of a mold between Curry and another famous point guard in Steve Nash. Kerr first noted that “Steph is like Steve on steroids” and, from there, he spoke about Young as a confluence of a number of factors first inspired by Nash.
“Now you’re seeing a whole generation of point guards who are capable of shooting the ball from deep, of penetrating and being really tricky, and clever passers… and Trae Young embodies all of that,” Kerr said. Later, he pointed out that Curry and Nash, almost in tandem, will produce many more players that can draw on their play as inspirational.
“You see Steph’s jersey in every arena,” said Kerr. “So you know that he’s inspiring a whole generation of young kids because they can relate to him. He looks like they do. He looks like a normal-sized human being and, what he does on the floor is so amazing that tons and tons of kids out there gravitate toward him and try to play like him. I think we’re going to see more and more players coming up who have that type of game, combining the deep shooting with the passing and the ball-handling, because people are working on their games as we speak all over the country and trying to emulate him. It’s fun to watch.”
At this juncture, the Curry-Young comparison has been driven into the ground in many respects and, given that Young is shooting just 25 percent from three, it would be easy to put that particular parallel to bed with haste. There are certainly elements from Young’s game, headlined by his elite passing vision, that draw memories of Nash on the floor but, as with the vast majority of first-year point guards with limited size, there is growth to come in the future and, in the end, Kerr is right that it is safest to silence the 1-on-1 comparisons for a while.